Photo by John Simpkins: Morning light, dust rises from a vehicle traveling Flat Tire Road, looking east from Old Andrews School

My dad was a poet who didn’t write poems. 

When he was serious, he had to make sense, 

which is understandable if you know that nonsense 

can be a painful place to be from, and he 

was from there. Once my heart burst 

me out of sleep and urged me run across 

the river (or swim — I did that, too) and knock 

on a girl’s door. I had nothing but my desire— 

no words, not even breath — so I kissed her 

and she kissed me back, and the rest makes little sense 

as well. Now I’m alone by a fire, drunk with the blood 

that made me, dancing under the same stars 

that made and turned millions, now all dead. 

It’s just a way to keep from feeling alone. 

I can hear my dad if I told him. Easily 

amused but kind, he took my ambitions 

seriously. In his last years his boyhood loneliness 

returned, and he sat looking at things he couldn’t 

understand, pictures, rings, pages of writing, 

my mother. Good luck, he’d say, with all that.

David Allan Cates’ collection of poetry, The Mysterious Location of Kyrgyzstan, is forthcoming from Satellite Press. He is the author of five novels, most recently Tom Connor's Gift, winner of the 2015 Independent Book Publishers Books Award for best fiction in the Rocky Mountain west region.  He is the executive director of Missoula Medical Aid, a non-profit that does health care and health improvement projects in Honduras.